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Student Shows 2012: Manchester School of Architecture

James Jones, Design Director of Sheppard Robson, finds a BA lost in space and a BArch squeezed and confused

Characterise the school’s approach

The MSA’s temporary new home – ‘The Shed’ – provides a gallery-like quality of space and light. Yet the 2012 show has been unfortunately hung such that the BA feels ‘lost in space’, while the BArch is squeezed and confused. One has to work hard to find a mental place where the undoubted quality of the BArch’s six units can be properly appraised.

Standout unit

Approaches of the units differ greatly but all engage very tangibly with the urban. Particularly notable, in this respect, is the work of MSA_P, developed through real social research with Manchester residents. Notable for other reasons is QED – each project an international competition, nearly all finalists. But the consistent high quality of shown work makes Bioclimatic Architecture the outstanding unit, with the drawings of Jack O’Reilly pre-eminent.

Standout student

The outstanding student, however, is in unit [Re_Map]ICU, with a project in the (perhaps) unlikely setting of Stoke-on-Trent. Carrie Bayley’s ‘Infrascraper 2’ shows a depth and quality in research, development, theory and design which delights more the longer one views. A world weary perspective might dismiss her thesis as utopian fancy, but the dreamer hopes that one day, in practice, she will make good the promise of this outstanding project.

In a word

Intense

James Jones is design director at Sheppard Robson

AJ reviews of every student show in the UK are in AJ26.07.12. Students can subscribe to the AJ for just £82.50.

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